Written in 1964 by Roald Dahl, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is a children's novel about a poor boy who wins a golden ticket to visit the renowned candy maker Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The book captured many hearts, both young and old, as the imaginative children's tale of confectionery creation gained popularity.
In 1971, the book was adapted into the film Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, directed by Mel Stuart. The late Gene Wilder portrayed the famous candy man, bringing him to life onscreen. Though loved by many people, the film still left out a few facts about Willy Wonka. Read on to discover them.
In the book, Willy Wonka welcomes the golden ticket winners to his factory by doing "a little dance." In the movie, however, Wonka's welcome routine is taken up a notch.
The little dance is turned into an elaborate welcome song with full-on theatrics, showcasing the visuals of the factory. Wilder sings "Pure Imagination" while dancing through the halls. The welcome song plays a major role in setting up the aesthetic for the candy maker's factory—one full of creativity, wonder, and fun.
Roald Dahl envisioned the Willy Wonka in his book to be more of a hard, cold, "British eccentric," who gave off the illusion that he was a creative genius. Dahl didn't approve of Wilder for the on-screen part. He felt that Wilder's portrayal was a little too soft and didn't fit the vision in his head when we wrote it.
Despite Dahl's objections, the film company sided with Wilder's performance and the actor was given the part. Gene Wilder has become a fan favorite for his portrayal of Wonka.
Though very true to the characterizations of Willy Wonka in Dahl's novel, Gene Wilder had a huge influence in the characterization of Wonka onscreen. Critics and fans alike have stated that Wilder makes Wonka a character of his own.
Wilder only agreed to do the movie on one condition—he wanted to do a somersault in Wonka's opening scene. He felt that it would be a great way to set up the tone for the unpredictable, spontaneous personality he was about to portray. Though Willy Wonka never actually somersaults in the book, fans love that Wilder did.
The Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie highlights the ways that imagination, creativity, and a belief that the best things are yet to come are what can keep a youthful soul alive. However, many Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book lovers are quick to point out that the novel represents a darker commentary.
In reality, Willy Wonka can be interpreted as a representative of the elite. He runs a factory that operates on the labors of others and benefits from sales marketed towards the young. It's a classic critique of wealth-building and though masked by bright colors and light-hearted songs, the film still allows for Wonka to represent this too.
While Willy Wonka's factory in Dahl's novel is located in London, England, the movie actually filmed many exterior scenes in Munich, Germany.
From the school that Charlie attends, to Bill's Candy Shop where he goes to buy his winning piece of chocolate, you'll be able to spot many locations from the movie if you ever find yourself visiting Munich. Charlie's house where his aging grandparents live is located in the German countryside, and the gates of the factory used in the film that said "Wonka" were filmed on Munich streets too.
In a scene where Wonka has the children ride a boat over the chocolate river and through a tunnel, the candymaker begins to show signs of his imagination that might imply he's some sort of crazy genius.
When filming this scene, Gene Wilder had never rehearsed it in front of his co-stars and kept many of his acting choices a secret until he was in front of the camera. His resulting performance seemed so realistic that many of the children on set believed that Wilder might have actually been going crazy. Nevertheless, it was just his acting skills at their best.
The book states that the river that flows through Wonka's factory is made of sweet chocolate. However for the film, the river on the factory set wasn't completely chocolate.
Half of the river you'll see in the film is made up of water and cream. The water and cream were then mixed with melted chocolate. Many parts of the set of Wonka's factory remained hidden, and the scene where the children see the factory for the first time are the actors' genuine reactions. Unfortunately, the chocolate river spoiled quickly and left an awful smell on set.
In line with the idea that Dahl's novel takes on a darker commentary on the reality of his story, there were several times where Wonka and a few other characters in the novel swear. He refers to one of his Oompa Loompas as an "ass," and acts much more like a CEO tycoon than a friendly creator who is widely adored.
In the film, however, Wonka never swears, and you'll find the most swearing that comes from Charlie's grandfather George, who mutters "hell" in only one scene, making it more of a family-friendly film.
Mel Stuart, the director of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, revealed that it was his daughter, Madeline, who inspired him to turn the novel into a movie. She had mentioned that it was her favorite book and it would be a great story to put onscreen, and that is how the 1971 classic film was made.
Unfortunately, Roald Dahl ended up disliking the final version of the film. Though he was brought on to write the original draft of the screenplay, it was reported that he was unhappy with many of the small changes made onscreen. Looking on the bright side, movie lovers and book lovers now have both works of art to turn to.
Following the death of Roald Dahl in 1990, the Dahl estate had agreed to a remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in an attempt to bring the story on the big screen for a new generation of children. This project resulted in the 2005 version, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.
Many book lovers have debated which of the films remain truest to Dahl's novel. The argument is halfway split. People believe the 1971 film is more true to the book because of Wilder's honest and unpredictable portrayal of Wonka, but many choose the 2005 film because of the new technology used to make the factory feel more like the way Dahl described it. Either way, art is open to your own interpretation. I feel like that's something Wonka himself might say.